Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Holden Who?

The problem with Catcher in the Rye is the author JD Salinger. I think Jennifer Schuessler missed the mark in her article Get a Life, Holden Caulfield in the New York Times June 20,2009. Holden is very accessible and has been since it was published. I have never had any of my students find it difficult or inaccessible. The problem is that none of my students know of it because the author has spent his life squelching any scholars' attempt to publish about it. The book is not accessible on the Internet, the preferred mode of communication of the new generation.

Let me put this in context. There was a time when horse racing was the biggest sport in this country. Not anymore. Why? Some idiot decided not to make horse racing accessible on the new form of communication, the television. The result is that a whole generation grew up watching baseball, football, and basketball on television, then golf, and tennis and hockey. Not horse racing, except when the triple crown came around. Horse racing committed suicide.

So now back to the present day. Anytime anyone tries to write an intelligent essay on Catcher in the Rye, and use parts of the book to support arguments the author emerges from the bowels of obscurity with a battalion of lawyers to stop such web publishing. As we who teach English know that this is a classic that won't be realized for maybe another generation. Holden is everyone, and yet the man who created this masterpiece is too dumb to realize this and his death may be the very thing Holden needs to live.

When my fifteen year old had to read this book last year, he was amazed by the book and was even more amazed at its obscurity. A year later he still mentions Holden and wonders. Catcher still offers some good 'text to self' references. As a teacher I learned early about why some kids behave as they do was because of their parents. Once we meet the parents we soon love the kids because now we know where their problem comes from. The reason Holden can't get a life Jennifer, is because of an overbearing parent. Holden is still very accessible.

How many people understand the humor of this cover from a June 2007 New Yorker:

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